News February 24
Veterans A measure by Veterans' Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders is expected to face a procedural vote as soon as Tuesday. The legislation includes measures to permit veterans to receive in-state tuition benefits should they change their state of residence; provide a broader dental program; and require additional congressional oversight for the Veterans Administration's new digital tracking system for disability claims, National Journal reported. LINK
Comcast Comcast's plan to buy Time Warner Cable so far has not drawn much explicit opposition on Capitol Hill. Sen. Sanders said more media consolidation would mean "less local control, fewer outlets offering differing viewpoints and less ownership diversity." Sanders posted a poll on his website asking people whether regulators should approve such a deal, Communications Daily reported. Sen. Al Franken asked the FCC, Justice Department and FTC for a review.
Social Security President Obama dropped a controversial Social Security plan from his proposed budget. The idea would have held down annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security recipients. Obama's retreat drew praise from Sen. Sanders. He and more than a dozen Senate Democrats had signed a letter urging Obama to avoid tinkering with Social Security benefits in the proposed spending plan, according to Bankrate.com. LINK
Health Care The private insurance industry’s profit-making incentive makes health care unaffordable for the poor, but there are promising solutions currently being proposed at the state level. Vermont is already in the process of setting up a statewide single-payer health insurance system. If Vermont’s approach succeeds, we can expect other states to follow. Rep. John Conyers, Jr., has sponsored a single-payer bill in the House and Sen. Sanders has as similar bill in the Senate, Jawad Husain wrote in a letter to the editor of The Daily Free Press student newspaper at Boston University. LINK
EU, U.S. Rush to Stabilize Ukraine The Obama administration worked Sunday with the European Union to forge a much-needed financial bailout of Ukraine, but also extended an olive branch to Russia by inviting it to join the effort, The New York Times reported. LINK
Pentagon Plans to Shrink Army to Pre-World War II Level Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to shrink the United States Army to its smallest force since before the World War II buildup and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets in a new spending proposal that officials describe as the first Pentagon budget to aggressively push the military off the war footing adopted after the terror attacks of 2001. A result will be a military capable of defeating any adversary, but too small for protracted foreign occupations, according to The New York Times. LINK
Supreme Court to Weigh Power of EPA The Obama administration is squaring off at the Supreme Court with industry groups and Republican-led states over a small but important program aimed at limiting power-plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming. The justices are hearing arguments Monday in a challenge to a regulation that forces companies that want to expand industrial facilities or build new ones that would increase overall pollution to evaluate ways to reduce the carbon they release. Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas, The Associated Press reported. LINK
Green Up Day The head of Green Up Vermont says the state might lose its annual litter cleanup day unless additional funds are secured. Green Up Day takes place on the first Saturday of May when Vermonters take to the roads picking up litter. It’s organized by Green Up Vermont, a nonprofit organization. Melinda Vieux, the president of Green Up Vermont, said if the effort doesn’t get more funding to patch a $120,000 hole in its budget caused by declining corporate sponsorship, it might have to shut down, AP reported.